Report: More Arizona Kids Eating School Breakfast
PHOENIX - More school students in Arizona are starting their day with a nutritious breakfast. New research from the Food Research and Action Center shows that more than 252,000 students were part of the School Breakfast Program during the last school year, which is four percent more than the previous year.
Shawn Telford, Children/Youth Outreach Manager with the Association of Arizona Food Banks, says research shows eating breakfast is critical for student learning.
"As a former teacher myself, you always want students to come in ready to learn and ready to focus," Telford says. "When they're hungry, they can't do that as well."
Telford says more than half of students in Arizona qualify for the program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The states that did the best in the report were those, like Arizona, where schools serve breakfast in the classroom instead of only in the cafeteria.
Nationally, the report shows that during the last school year, more than 11 million low-income children ate a healthy morning meal each day, an increase of 320,000 students.
FRAC President Jim Weill says they compare the lunch and breakfast numbers to gauge how much progress the breakfast programs are making, and are seeing steady gains.
"In the 2013-2014 school year, there were 53 low-income kids eating breakfast for every 100 eating lunch and that was up by 10 kids per 100 over a decade," Weill says. "So, we're making real progress, year after year."
However, he adds, 48 states still have not made FRAC's goal of reaching at least 70 low-income children with breakfast at school for every 100 in the free lunch program. Arizona is one of those states falling short and is missing out on more than $24 million in federal School Breakfast Program funding as a result.